UPDATED: Clear eyes, full heart? Not so much.
The “Lone Survivor” director shared a meme on Instagram, circulated by the Facebook account Main Stream Media Sponsor Boycotts, slamming Jenner’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award win. The image contains side-by-side photos of Jenner and U.S. Army veteran Gregory D. Gadson.
“One man traded 2 legs for the freedom of the other to trade 2 balls for 2 boobs. Guess which man made the cover of Vanity Fair, was praised for his courage by President Obama and is to be honored with the ‘Arthur Ashe Courage Award’ by ESPN?” the text read. “Yup,” Berg captioned his post, simply.
Later on Thursday, however, Berg backtracked after fielding considerable criticism on the Web. In another Instagram post, he wrote, “I have the utmost respect for Caitlyn Jenner and I am a strong supporter of equality and the rights of trans people everywhere. I also believe that we don’t give enough attention to our courageous returning war veterans, many of whom have sacrificed their bodies and mental health for our country and our principals- principals that include the freedom to live the life you want to live without persecution or abuse.”
Gadson, who was in the U.S. Army for 15 years, lost both his legs to a roadside bomb while serving in Operation Iraq Freedom. He’s now a motivational speaker and actor, appearing in Berg’s film “Battleship.” He played in the Army’s football team from 1985 to 1989.
Berg executive produced the NBC football series “Friday Night Lights,” which is the TV adaptation of the book of the same name written by H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger, who coincidentally also penned the Vanity Fair cover story in which Jenner made her debut as a woman.
Berg is currently exec producing the HBO series “Ballers,” starting Dwayne Johnson. His upcoming film “Deepwater Horizon,” with Mark Wahlberg, hits theaters on Sept. 30, 2016.
NBC sportscaster Bob Costas was among those critical of ESPN’s decision to honor Jenner when the award was first announced.
“It strikes me that awarding the Arthur Ashe Award to Caitlyn Jenner is just a crass exploitation play — it’s a tabloid play,” he said on “The Dan Patrick Show” radio program in June. “In the broad world of sports, I’m pretty sure they could’ve found someone — and this is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner — who was much closer actively involved in sports, who would’ve been deserving of what that award represents.”
Jenner, who won the gold medal in the men’s decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics, delivered a stirring speech at last night’s awards ceremony on ABC in which she preached “accepting people for who they are.”
“Trans people deserve something vital,” she said. “They deserve your respect. And from that respect, comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society and a better world for all of us.”